FORT STEWART, Ga. - “What a great day for Fort Stewart, and what a great day for the 3rd Infantry Division, and what a great day for the field artillery community,” said Maj. Gen. John Murray, the commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division.
The “great day” that Murray was referring to was the activation ceremony for the 42nd Fires Brigade at Marne Gardens, Oct. 17.
“This is absolutely an exciting day but more important, a humbling day,” said Col. John O’Grady, the brigade commander of 42nd FiB, 3rd ID. “It is a great honor to be able to serve in the Army, and when you throw on top of that to be able to serve as a commander of great soldiers as we have here in the 42nd FiB; humbling is the word probably used most.”
The activation ceremony is a time-honored tradition which marks a milestone in the history of a unit. It is the beginning of a new chapter in the unit’s history and the chance to create a new legacy.
“It is my absolute honor to be a part of this milestone in the history of this brigade, and I want to offer my most sincere gratitude to the soldiers of the 42nd for inviting me to attend in the activation of your brigade,” said Murray.
The 42nd FiB was originally constituted in June 1918. Its history is deep and colorful, having participated in many campaigns such as World War I and the Defense of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Previous to the activation ceremony the most recent news was that the unit was inactivated in June 1995.
During the activation ceremony, the new brigade commander and the senior noncommissioned officer uncase the colors of the unit and officially take responsibility of the soldiers and their mission.
“This is a great challenge, and for me the word challenge is synonymous with the word opportunity,” said O’Grady. “We will get to build this operation within the mold and framework that we chose. You are not coming in with any pre-existing model that you have to break down, old habits, or anything. This really is about us, the team, and about what we want to be able to create. There are very few times in the Army when you get to do that. So to me it’s a challenge but it is also an opportunity.”
The 42nd FiB “Wheel Horses” have an interesting mission ahead of them and a challenge, said both Murray and O’Grady.
“Essentially, what we will do for the division commander is, we will nest the fires and indirect artillery subset of his overall plan, and support him and be able to support any other combatant commander with fires as required,” said O’Grady.
“The fires brigade is the only Army field artillery organization, other than the brigade combat team, that can be directed to execute tasks from a joint, service or functional headquarters,” said Murray. “This brigade will give me a headquarters to plan, synchronize and execute close supporting fires, strike, counter fire, and fires in support of decisive and shaping operations throughout the division’s area of operations.”
“The 42nd Fires will be capable of mission command for the forward compliment Army and joint fires support capabilities, technical oversight of all field artillery specific training within the division,” said Murray.
With a clear idea of the mission and challenges ahead, Col. O’Grady and Command Sgt. Maj. Delmar Traylor take responsibility of the 42nd FiB and prepare for the road ahead.
It is a great honor to be a part of this unit and its reactivation, said O’Grady. There is an incredibly proud tradition in the lineage of this division, dating back to its inception, and its being played out literally today with soldiers overseas, we can’t forget them, and then here, in small ways with this activation ceremony. It is vital to honor that tradition.
Murray issued a challenge to the soldiers of the 42nd FiB before he ended his speech.
“I challenge the soldiers of this brigade to carry on the proud traditions of the Wheel Horses,” said Murray. “Always live the Army Values and the Warrior’s Creed, striving to be the best that you can be each and every day. Along with your leaders, you are the next chapter in the long legacy of the 42nd FiB. The reputation of this brigade is upon your shoulders and the eyes of its proud veterans are on each and every one of you. While this ceremony marks the official activation of this brigade, it is only the beginning of your work and of its legacy. The legacy of your brigade depends on each of you.”